The parents of 5-year-old A.J. Freund appeared in court today, facing murder charges after the little boy was found deceased last week. A.J.’s mother reportedly seemed dazed and confused while a judge questioned her.
NBC Chicago reports that 36-year-old JoAnn Cunningham appeared only two minutes before a judge in a Woodstock, Illinois, courtroom, and explained she was a hairstylist but hadn’t worked in two years.
Cunningham also said her Crystal Lake home was in foreclosure and she had no bank account or money. When the judge asked Cunningham if she had a lawyer, she appeared confused, and kept her head down and said she didn’t know, according to Mail Online. She eventually asked for a public defender.
A.J.’s father, 60-year-old Andrew Freund, appeared separately in court Monday morning. Although a bit more coherent than his wife, authorities shackled his wrists before his court appearance. Freund Sr. said he was still considering his legal options. A judge gave him until May 3 to decide if he wanted a public defender.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, A.J. was found dead and buried in a shallow grave last Wednesday. He died from numerous blunt force injuries to his head, according to the McHenry County Coroner’s Office.
McHenry County Interim Coroner David Devane, who released the boy’s official cause of death results on Thursday afternoon, noted that A.J. had “craniocerebral trauma as a consequence of multiple blunt force injuries.” According to Mayo Clinic, craniocerebral trauma means a traumatic brain injury, typically caused by violent blows to the head.
According to FOX 32, documents filed on Thursday at the McHenry County Circuit Court indicate that on April 15, Freund Sr. and Cunningham forced their son “to remain in a cold shower for an extended period of time and/or struck A.F. on or about his body, knowing such acts would cause the death of A.F.”
Cunningham has been charged with five counts of murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.
Freund Sr. has been charged with five counts of murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing or child death. He’s also charged with two counts of concealment of homicidal death, as authorities said he was the one that buried the boy in a neighboring town.
The discovery came exactly one week after Freund Sr. reported his son missing. The man called 911 and told the dispatcher that he couldn’t find A.J., and explained the last time he saw him was the previous night, in their home off of Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake.
Freund Sr. also told the dispatcher he had an early doctor’s appointment on the morning of April 18, but when he returned home between 8:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., his son was missing. The man said he thoroughly checked the home and the surrounding areas and couldn’t find A.J.
“I have no idea where he could be,” Freund said.
Authorities said from the beginning of the investigation that they didn’t believe the child was abducted, as a canine unit couldn’t place the child’s scent past the family’s home.
The story continues to develop. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: A.J. Freund/Handout]